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Our Staff Alumni
Lorella Thomas Hess
I am called to this work to help keep families together, to help my country embrace its diversity, and to affirm the interconnectedness of the world. I graduated from Pepperdine University School of Law in 2015 and represent clients seeking to acquire, maintain, or enhance legal status in the United States.
Before joining the Law Office of Vanessa Frank, I worked at a large full-service immigration firm in Pasadena and at a small Los Angeles firm specializing in difficult asylum cases. I also completed a post-bar fellowship with the Ventura County Public Defender in Veterans Court. As a law student, I served internships with the High Court of Uganda and with a chambers of family law barristers in London.
I was born in Mexico and moved to the U.S. at a young age. Growing up, I always tried to separate myself from my immigration status, even though it affected various aspects of my life. Once I got to high school, I became more aware of the inequitable treatment that immigrants received.
I was frustrated with a system that had subconsciously made me so apprehensive. I began volunteering at events that helped the immigrant community, such as Swap Meet Justice, and local citizenship fairs. These forms of advocacy have helped empower me and have helped me reach out to my community.
Paralegal - October 2018 - July 2021
Born in a multicultural home, my Argentine mother and Mexican father continuously exposed me to diverse nationalities and cultures. Exposure to this has allowed me to gain a desire to assist others of diverse backgrounds in need. I have recently graduated from California State University Northridge with a BA in Chicana/o Studies. Soon, I will be attending graduate school where I hope to conduct research on the effects of mixed-status homes on children and adolescents.
I am currently a board member with the organization CLUE VC (Ventura County Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice) and an ambassador for OSS (Oxnard Student Success). Since working with Vanessa, it has continued to motivate me to advocate and vocalize the issues within our society that many do not have the privilege of voicing; resisting gentrification, and the oppression of our migrant community.
Clerk - August 2020 - August 2021
My childhood summers were typically spent with grandparents and great grandparents—individuals who immigrated to this country in the 1960s. I distinctly remember asking my family members questions, curious to learn more about how and why they emigrated from their home countries, Mexico and Costa Rica.
At the height of the 2016 presidential election, I saw this topic of conversation transition to the national level—and I was bothered, by what I was hearing and seeing. This sentiment has persisted, especially as I learned of how immigrants and refugees are treated not only in the US but also across the world, namely the EU.
My goal is to give these individuals a voice and have our leaders recognize the humanity in these individuals, through working in law or politics. I am currently on my gap year; in the fall of 2021 I will be attending Yale University, where I will be majoring in Political Science with a concentration in American Government.
Paralegal - January 2021 - June 2021
I was born in Mexico and came to the United States at a young age. I became a citizen of the United States 24 years after I arrived. I understand how it is to walk through the immigration process, therefore I am passionate to keep families together. I have been working in the immigration field since 2003.
I obtained my paralegal certificate and Associates Degree in 2008 at Los Angeles City College. In 2019 I obtained my Bachelor’s Degree at Randal Christian University.
Paralegal September 2017 - January 2021
One of my college professors told us that the way to find out what you are truly passionate about is to think of what makes you angry, which made me think of our immigration system in this country and throughout the world. Since I graduated from UC San Diego with a bachelors in Political Science, I knew I wanted to work in an environment that would focus on immigration.
I am currently assisting the attorney with family-based petitions by helping to complete the appropriate forms and by communicating with our clients to provide us with the proper documentation. I am also fortunate to be helping the attorney with the preparation process for completing I-601A waivers under her supervision. Working with Vanessa has also allowed me to gain more insight and bring the experience to the other job I have as an accredited representative with a non-profit in Santa Barbara called Immigrant Hope Santa Barbara.
Working at an immigration law firm continues to prepare and equip me to help the community understand how difficult our immigration system can be. With the knowledge that I am gaining from the attorney, I hope that in the near future I could be able to become an immigration attorney and can be one of the good ones.
January 2019 - May 2019
Since receiving my bachelors from California Lutheran University majoring in Sociology, I have been assisting Vanessa on a special research project and worked as a media intern in past. Before as a media intern, I updated, maintained and grew the office’s social media presence and developed outreach material and presentations. Another previous work experience is that I have interned at the Legal Aid Justice Center in their Immigrant Advocacy Program. Also, I have conducted original qualitative research focusing on the educational barriers and mental health issues of first generation Latina college students and was presented at the Pacific Sociological Association’s Annual Conference.
In the future, I want to continue with my education and eventually gain a PhD in Sociology. Not only that, but I will continue my passion to gain experiences in the field of community outreach for the immigrant community.
October 2018 - September 2019
September 2017 - September 2018
Lizbeth Gonzalez was born in Mexico City and raised in Oxnard, CA since the age of 3. She is a DACA recipient and has been working at the Law Office of Vanessa Frank since August 2017. She works as an assistant, organizing files and contacting clients. She is a high school Junior and plans on pursuing higher education in the near future. She is working at the office because she loves helping people out and also wants to save money for college.
Nidia was born in Puebla, Mexico and grew up in Los Angeles. She is now a fourth-year undergraduate studying Psychology and Social Behavior and Chicano/Latino Studies. For the past three years she has been involved with the California Dream Network and other organizations that fight for immigrants' rights. During the summer of 2017 she worked at the Law Office of Vanessa Frank, assisting the paralegal with administrative matters and client management. After graduating this year, she hopes to continue working to fight for immigrants' rights.
Gabriela Macias Mota
August 2015 - May 2016
Originally from Jalisco, Mexico, Gabriela has lived in California since the age of 7 and now calls Oxnard her home. At an early age she understood the important role that education would play in her life and set out on a journey to achieve higher education. However as an undocumented student she encountered many struggles that began to shape her community involvement and soon she developed a passion for advocating for those who have been left without a voice.
Gabriela started out her undergraduate education at Oxnard College and transferred to UCSB where she earned Bachelor's degrees in Spanish and Latin American Studies. While a student, she advocated for the rights of undocumented students and of the greater immigrant community through her involvement with student organizations such as the Oxnard College DREAM Club and IDEAS of UCSB. Shortly after graduation, Gabriela decided to bring her community activism back home to her community and worked briefly as a Youth Organizer for CLUE of Ventura County. It was through her involvement with CLUE that she was able to connect with Vanessa Frank and shortly after started her work at the Law Office of Vanessa Frank where she further cemented her beliefs and commitment to empowering immigrant communities. Though the encouragement and insight that Vanessa provided for her, she was able to refocus her vision in pursuing a law degree.
She has found many of her strengths in non-profit leadership and currently works as a Program Manager for Future Leaders of America (FLA) in Ventura County. Previously in her role as Youth Organizer at FLA, she organized Latino youth to challenge educational inequities at the Oxnard Union High School District. Youth have urged the local district to adopt a policy change that will ensure all youth regardless of background will have access to college admissions required courses. Her goal is to pursue a law degree within the next ten years and continue to serve her community through advocacy, policy and reliable legal representation. Gabriela's biggest source of inspiration is and continues to be the people in her community who turn their struggle into their strength to keep forward. She hopes that today's youth will also be able to be able to find their inspiration in the prior generations who have fought to pave the way for those to come.
January 2014-August 2014
Victor Escobar, a Peruvian national, is currently a second-year student at UC Hastings College of the Law. Ms. Frank initially represented Victor in his deportation proceedings while mentoring him to apply to law school. After she secured Victor's DACA, she hired him as a paralegal. Ms. Frank also encouraged Victor to volunteer at several pro-immigrant activist groups.
During his first summer in law school, Victor interned at the U.S. District Court for the Ninth Northern District of California. For his second summer, Victor will intern at the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office, one of the few public defender’s office with an immigration unit in the nation. During his third year, he will also join the nationally recognized Moot Court team at UC Hastings.
Victor is now practicing criminal and immigration law after graduating from Law School -- areas of law used to oppress the immigrant community.
June 2014 - August 2014
Andrea Estrada is a native of Guanajuato, Mexico and has lived in the U.S since 1997. She graduated from California State University Channel Islands, with a double major in Political Science and Chicano Studies in 2014.
She is currently an account manager for a real estate law firm in Palm Springs, California. She hopes to attend law school in the future in order to practice immigration or family law.
David Gonzalez was born and raised in Mexico City, and he came to the United States at the age of 9. He works as a legal clerk at Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA), and he attended CAL State University Northridge (CSUN) where he is studying Economics and Chicano Studies. David is very passionate about immigration, being a DACA recipient and his life constantly revolving around immigration. He hopes to become an immigration attorney in the future to help his community. He currently lives in Los Angeles
He previously was a paralegal with the Law Office of Vanessa Frank, managing all aspects of client communication, office management and attorney support.
Litzy Hernández was born in Oaxaca, Mexico and raised in Ventura County, California. Hernández is getting her Bachelors in both Political Science and Spanish at the University of California Berkeley. She has a long history of defending the rights of immigrants with several non-profit organizations in Oxnard and beyond. Living in the Ventura County, she continuously returns to Oxnard during the summer to work with the immigrant and indigenous community.
Her long term goal is to find more ways to improve support and lives of Ventura County immigrants through advocacy and creating more community bonds.
As a rising alumna of University California Los Angeles (UCLA), Ashley is a double major in Political Science and English. She is part of the CALPIRG student organization, where undergraduates organize political campaigns. Ashley has a deep passion to help others and eventually wants to study law.
Once becoming a lawyer, she hopes to use the judicial system to fight everyday injustices in the United States. Through the summer at the immigration law firm, she was producing community outreach materials to form allyship with others.